Accompanying this letter is an announcement of an expanded summer seminar schedule which will serve both east and west coasts of the country. Our single seminar last year in Flagstaff, Arizona was attended by people from California to New Hampshire and from New Mexico to Washington state. All who attended had glowing remarks for the incredible amount of knowledge which can be learned when people come together for a week and concentrate on a given subject - particularly the subject of America. A number of teen-agers were there—and loved it, as well as adults of all ages. One person from Iowa, who had never heard of NCCS, came at the urging of a good friend and he in turn encouraged several others to come. They all were particularly impressed how positive the presentations were and how it gives hope to concerned Americans. Our Iowa friend has since hosted a very successful one-day seminar in his home town and has been the cause of many others learning the marvelous message of the Founding Fathers. Dr. Skousen’s talk on The Next Fifty Years has become one of the most popular speeches in many years.
I invite you to seriously consider the meaning such an event may have for you and your loved ones. The messages presented are not limited to the happenings of today. Eternal, sound principles will be taught which have been the source of strength and freedom for any nation who will embrace them. America will one day return to them, but not until more Americans embrace them.
One of the presenters at our upcoming summer seminar series is Dr. Oliver DeMille. Dr. DeMille founded George Wythe College which has, as its mission, the building and educating of modern American Founders and Statesmen. His presentations are dynamic. To give you a flavor of Dr. DeMille’s message, we present to you this month a copy of a speech he delivered at the annual Freedom Festival in Provo, Utah, on July 2, 1998.
THE NEW AMERICAN FOUNDERS OF THE 21ST CENTURY
By Dr. Oliver DeMille
In 1764, ten years before the Revolutionary War began, Thomas Jefferson was just a 21-year-old college student. He had just recently received a "dear John" letter from his intended, who married one of his best friends. Worse still, Jefferson was asked to serve as the best man at the wedding. With no other romantic prospects, he focused on his studies under his mentor, Professor George Wythe.
In that same year, George Washington was just a farmer. He worked hard trying to make a living, and records show that his major effort that year was a struggle to get out of debt.
John Adams was just a teacher for a small community school. He courted and married Abigail in October of that same year, 1764.
James Madison turned 12 years old that year. His future wife hadn’t even been born yet, and he was a good student but known as quiet and shy.
A decade later these men would courageously declare independence from the greatest power in the world and sign it "we...pledge our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor."
A decade after that they would write the Constitution of the United States, "the most wonderful work ever struck off at a given time by the brain and purpose of man," as Gladstone put it.
But in 1764 they were just ordinary people, like you and me. In fact, a lot like you and me.
We Must Be Founders
It is not enough to reverence the Founding Fathers during this Freedom Festival Celebration. We must be like them.
Their writings show that they knew the cycles of history. Jefferson wrote: "History, by apprising the people of the past, will enable them to judge the future..." Alexander Tytler, also writing in the founding era, said: "...the world’s greatest civilizations...have progressed through this sequence: From bondage to spiritual faith; from spiritual faith to great courage; from courage to liberty; from liberty to abundance; from abundance to selfishness; from selfishness to complacency, from complacency to apathy; from apathy to dependency; from dependency back again to bondage."
Knowing this pattern of history, the Founders knew that courageous and wise statesmen would be needed shortly. They could not see the future, but it was clear to them that crisis was coming, and so they prepared.
Do the patterns of their day apply today? And might there be a future Jefferson, Madison, or Washington in this audience?
I believe that when the time is right, some of you will be called upon to be the statesmen of our day—whether you like it or not. And whether you are prepared or not. Some of you will be the statesmen of the 21st Century.
How should you and I prepare? After all, we are just ordinary people. So how did the ordinary people in 1764 come to be the world’s greatest statesmen in 1776 and 1787? They prepared the same way great statesmen have always prepared. And if we want to be as they were, we must do as they did.
The great statesmen in history, each within their own circumstance, have used three keys on the path to greatness:
First, classics. The great men and women of history all studied other great men and women of history. Find a great statesman, and you find someone who studied the classics. Today there are many suggested lists, but for the founders a classic was an original work by another great leader.
In a way, all great leaders have a line of authority back through the people they studied. Jefferson's heritage includes John Locke, the Anglo-Saxons and Jesus Christ. Madison's line includes Hume, to Montesquieu, to Aristotle and Moses. Lincoln's includes George Washington, Shakespeare and the Bible.
Now, my wife Rachel wondered if I should go through these lists because some of these names are unfamiliar—but that is exactly the point. Jefferson, Madison and Washington weren't a different breed of men that we could never hope to emulate. They were people like you and me who paid the price to come face to face with greatness by reading the words of other great men and women. If we pay that same price, we can achieve the same results.
As David O. McKay put it: "Noble companions inspire nobility....[Great literature] affords the opportunity to everyone...to spend as many hours as he wishes in the company of the noblest men and women that the world has ever known....Much of the character of George Washington was instilled in the character of Abraham Lincoln in hours thus spent."
A person who comes face to face with Moses before Pharaoh, Socrates at the court in Athens, Paul on Mars Hill or before Agrippa, Thomas More in his own defense at Henry's court, Martin Luther's "Here I stand!" at the Diet of Worms, or Cromwell's decision to be King is changed by the examples and experiences of those who have gone before.
How can there be Washingtons and Jeffersons today unless we read what they read, feel what they felt, and know what they knew? There are eternal principles upon which success in any field is based—and the way to find the principles of statesmanship is not in textbooks, but in the lives and writings of great statesmen.
Our freedoms are not the result of chance; we have them because the founding men and women decided to pay the price for freedom. Unless we are willing to pay that same price, we cannot and will not stay free.
Mentors and God
The Second Key on the pathway to greatness is Mentors. Behind every Jefferson there is a George Wythe, behind every Madison a John Witherspoon, behind every Washington a Colonel Fairfax. These names are all but forgotten now, but they pushed their mentees to excellence, opened doors for their advancement, and gave them wise counsel throughout their lives.
Find a great man or woman, and you will find a mentor or mentors lifting and guiding them along their path.
The Third Key to greatness is a relationship with God. Great statesmen have experience with inspiration. Often these very public people keep their spiritual lives private, but their journals and papers acknowledge the hand of the Almighty.
If Jefferson is right about the lessons of history, America will yet face challenges as grave as those the Founders faced. Who will be the statesmen that carry off freedom triumphant in our lifetime? When crisis comes, who will lead out? Where are the New American Founders of the 21st Century?
None of us know who those statesmen will be. But this I do know—the great statesmen and stateswomen of the future will be prepared through the classics, mentors and a relationship with God.
The classics will probably not be handed to you on a silver platter. Nor is it likely that the perfect mentor will call YOU on the phone offering his or her services. You must seek these out with the same energy and effort with which you seek a relationship with your Maker. He will guide you through the classics. He will lead you to the right mentors.
I know that it is hard to study the classics and find mentors. We are busy making a living or going to school, but if we are too busy to study the classics and apply the lessons they teach, then we are too busy to stay free. Too busy to "secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity."
Freedom is not an entitlement, it must be earned. And it must be deserved.
Unknown Statesmen and Stateswomen
And by the way, some of the greatest statesmen in history are men and women you have never heard of. Being a statesman doesn't mean you are famous or even involved in government; it means that you are great in whatever you called upon to do. For example, one great American stateswomen was Hannah Hendee.
In the night of October 16 in 1780, a band of 300 Indians led by British troops raided farms near South Royalton, Vermont, stealing men and boys to sell for the bounty offered by the British.
The Hendee family had been warned, and the husband set off to warn others downstream. Hannah picked up her young daughter and ran to the woods with her 7-year-old son, Michael. The Indians caught them and took Michael. When she demanded to know what they would do with the boy, one of the Indians who spoke English replied,"make a soldier of him."
As they dragged away her sobbing little boy, Hannah carried her screaming daughter toward the road and headed toward Lebanon, sixteen miles away.
"She had not gone far when she was filled with a surge of uncommon resolve, a fierce determination. She returned upriver and found the British and the Indians gathering their captives....
"Oblivious of the danger, she demanded her little boy. Captain Horton said he could not control the Indians; it was none of his concern what they did. She threatened him: ‘You are their commander, and they must and will obey you. The curse will fall upon you for whatever crime they may commit, and all the innocent blood they shall here shed will be found in your skirts when the secrets of men's hearts are made known, and it will cry for vengeance upon your head!’ When her little son was brought in she took him by the hand and refused to let go. An Indian threatened her with a cutlass and jerked her son away. She defiantly took him back and said that she would follow them every step of the way to Canada, she would never give up, they would not have her little boy!
"Finally, intimidated by her determination, Captain Horton told her to take her son and leave. He could face an army of men, but not a mother driven by the strongest of emotions....
"During the day other little boys were brought into camp. Desperately they clung to Mrs. Hendee. With uncommon courage, she interceded for them as vigorously as she had for her own.
"Finally, when the captives were assembled for the long march to Canada, Mrs. Hendee [left and] somehow crossed the river with her daughter and nine small boys....Two of them she carried across. The others waded through the water with their arms around each others' necks, clinging to her skirts. As the cold October night closed in, Mrs. Hendee huddled in the woods with the soaking-wet little brood she had rescued from certain death." (Evelyn Wood Lovejoy, History of Royalton, Vermont; quoted and paraphrased from Boyd K. Packer, Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled. Bookcraft. pp.58-60)
Was not this young mother a stateswoman as Esther of old? And her acts as noble as any performed by her contemporaries of greater fame?
A statesman is a "man or woman of virtue, wisdom, diplomacy and courage, who inspired greatness in others and moves the cause of liberty."
Become a New American Founder
Tonight you will hear the words of the Founders. Listen to them as a celebration of freedom. But more importantly, listen to learn to be like them. To become statesmen and stateswomen.
In 1776 Thomas Jefferson declared the independence of all humankind, but in 1764 he was just a college student trying to mend a broken heart.
In 1780 George Washington almost single-handedly brought down the greatest military on earth, but in 1764 he was just a farmer struggling to get out of debt.
In 1787 James Madison swayed the entire course of history, but in 1764 he was just a shy twelve-year-old.
In 1780 Hannah Hendee rescued 9 little boys from an entire army, but before that it might have been said of her, "she is just a housewife".
It is the housewives, teachers, farmers, and other ordinary people who have greatness within them, IF THEY DECIDE TO DEVELOP IT.
And they develop it through classics, mentors and a relationship with God. What would Jefferson have been without John Locke, Washington without the experience of Cromwell, Madison without Montesquieu, Hannah Hendee without the family Bible?
The founders were great men and women of genius and inspiration, but it didn’t just happen to them. They were ordinary people who CHOSE to live good, honest lives and to pay the price of greatness.
In our day, the world cries out for good, honest people to pay that same price. So tonight listen to the Old American Founders who won us our freedom. And tomorrow, BECOME the New American Founders who will preserve it.
We look forward to seeing many of you this summer. Thank you for your generous support which makes these events possible.
Earl Taylor, Jr.